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Injury. 2012 Nov;43(11):1949-52. doi: 10.1016/j.injury.2012.08.006. Epub 2012 Aug 17.

A single volar incision fasciotomy will decompress all three forearm compartments: a cadaver study.

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  • 1Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Louisville School of Medicine, Louisville, KY 40202, United States.



Although there are three distinct compartments of the forearm, the typical approach for decompression of forearm compartment syndrome is a single incision fasciotomy of the volar compartment. This study had two purposes. The first purpose of this study was to investigate the compartment pressure changes within the forearm compartments following the creation of an acute compartment pressure using fresh-frozen cadaver forearm specimens. The second purpose was to compare the compartment pressure changes of the volar, dorsal, and mobile wad compartments at frequent intervals following a compartment fasciotomy of the forearm.


An experimental study of a laboratory model of acute forearm compartment syndrome was performed at a level-one, university-based trauma centre. Eight non-embalmed human forearms from 5 male and 3 female donors with an average age of 71 years (range, 51-91) were used. Compartment pressures in the volar, dorsal, and mobile wad compartments were recorded both before fasciotomy and 1, 10, 20, and 30 min after fasciotomy.


A single incision volar fasciotomy was sufficient to decrease the elevated compartment pressures in the volar, dorsal and mobile wad compartments to near-baseline levels after 10 min. The mean compartment pressures 30 min post-fasciotomy in the volar, dorsal, and wad compartments were 2, 4, and 3 mmHg, respectively.


In a laboratory model of an acute forearm compartment syndrome, a single compartment fasciotomy may be sufficient to decrease compartment pressures in the non-released compartments (dorsal and mobile wad). Further study is necessary before changes in clinical management can be recommended.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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